Hundreds of Ethiopians soldiers and their tanks were on Sunday deployed in Kismayo town as part of the African Union Peacekeeping troops, officials said.
The deployment of the Ethiopian forces is said to the replacement of the departed Sierra Leone peacekeepers once based in the port town.
Sierra Leone prematurely ended its contribution to AMISOM last year at the height of the Ebola epidemic after the Somali government expressed fear over a possible transmission of the disease.
Abdullahi Sheikh Ismail, the Vice President of Interim Jubba Administration, said that the troops were deployed in response to a request from the public to assist the administration in restoring peace and stability in the region.
The region experiences a deadly guerrilla war staged by Al-Shabab fighters, who continue to launch attacks on AMISOM and local troops, thereby preventing troops from advancing further into the rebel-held territory.
Col. Tesfaye, the lead commander of the Ethiopian troops deployed in the town vowed to help ‘liberate’ the region, through coordination with local forces and AU forces from Kenya and Burundi.
. Ethiopian forces officially joined the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia in January last year after an approval by the United Nations Security Council, which authorized an additional force of over 4000 troops to bring the number of AMISOM peacekeepers in Somalia to over 22,126.
The Ethiopian troops in Somalia have played a major role in driving Al Shabab out of several strongholds since formally joining the peacekeeping mission in January 2014.
Somalia has been racked by constant war for more than 20 years – its last functioning national government was toppled in 1991.